Poland (Republic of Poland)

Languages: Polish

Currencies: PLN · Polish złoty (zł)

Capitol: Warsaw

Continents: Europe

Borders: Germany, Russia, Czechia, Slovakia, Belarus, Lithuania, Ukraine

More useful information

Area: 312,679km2

Population: 37,950,802

Traffic/driving side: right

Landlocked country: No

Independent country: Yes

United Nations member: Yes

IDD Prefix: +48

Timezones: UTC+01:00

Last updated on April 22, 2024

Another year in Tatra Mountains and high time for hiking Koscielec Ridge (2155m) 😉. It’s quite demanding trail… but nothing is easy in Tatra Mountains.

Follow this step-by step guide which will get you fully prepared ahead of hiking Koscielec peak in terms of gear recommendation, best routes to the top, tips & advice.

When to hike Koscielec in Tatra Mountains?

Koscielec can be hiked all year round – however it is NOT an easy mountain and you would need to climb few rocky sections.

The best time to hike Koscielec is: June to September, the weather is quite dry with no snow/however storms may occur in summer months. Full hiking gear is required at any time of the year. In winter you would definitely need crampons and ice axe as a support for the rocky sections. 

I was hiking Koscielec in October 2023 in unbelieveable good weather conditions as for this time of the year: +24 Celsius degrees and zero clouds.

Even with such good weather we saw rescue helicopter running 3 times toward Red Peaks – which means the situation was pretty serious. Never underestimate Tatra Mountains, even in greatest weather conditions. 

Before hiking Koscielec.

  1. Always check mountain weather forecast on (cameras available): Tatra National Park: https://tpn.pl/ or Tatra Rescue Centre: https://pogoda.topr.pl/
  2. Emergency rescue is free in Polish Tatra Mountains: Emergency lines: 985 or 601 100 300
  3. Go to the Tourist Information Point (few in Zakopane) and get free Tatra Trails Map – this will gove you a good idea on the hiking routes, although the trails are well marked with signs. There is also an information on timings between certain sections, which will allow you to calculate the route time.
Full guide on hiking Koscielec in Tatra Mountains from Zakopane

Hiking gear - what to take for Koscielec.

After years of hiking, this is a must-have set for most mountain hikes – remember it is better to have some extra equipment and food, than to run out of nutrition, water or dry clothes. Weather in mountains can be extremely changeable.

  • Headlight – LED waterproof bestsller |AMAZON! plasters, whistle, mirror,
  • Comfortable hiking shoes: La Sportiva – on my last climb in Tatra Mountains, half people were going in these shoes.
  • Gel blisters!! |AMAZON NUMBER ONE FOR ME! Absolutely genious thing- your second skin even for hard injuries. 
  • Hiking backpack (25-35 liters), for years I have been using Northface and these are the most comfortable backpacks.
  • ANKER black Powerbank/portable charger – 20k battery, connector type: Micro USB, USB Type C, Special feature: LED Indicator Lights, Slim, Built In Wall Plug, Pocket Size, Fast Charging.
  • Windproof jacket (it’s a must),
  • Rainproof jacket – highly recommended, however you can additionally have packable lightweight raincoat,
  • UVEX with UV protection, 
  • Climbing gloves – Black Diamond |AMAZON – affordable and something you’ll find extremely useful for more challenging hiking trails (one of my favourite brand, amazing equipment,
  • Hat, sun lotion – always protect your skin – the sun in the moutains can be very agressive,
  • Comfortable hiking trousers,
  • Food, high energy snacks: nuts, energy bars, chocolate, water (1.5l), hot tea with honey, lemon and ginger, you can take fruits (apple, banana, dates).
  • Water bladder for hiking pack – Camel bag– really handy on more challenging hikes/clims! 

Best accommodation options in Zakopane.

Full guide on hiking Koscielec in Tatra Mountains from Zakopane

I have recently stayed in Aparthotel pod Nosalem for 98$ for 3 nights! 

It is located in Jaszczurowka (12 minutes from Zakopane centre by bus), just in front of the famous Nosal slope, next to the Nosalowy Dwor Resort & Spa. And there’s a lovely cafe place and a restaurant nearby. In Aparthotel there’s a small spa (jacuzzi and sauna), pool table. Small kicthen and a bathroom are in every room.

Bus stop to Zakopane is 3 minutes from the place. Zakopane bus routes timetable below.

Climbing route to Koscielec.

My route to Koscielec from Zakopane: KUZNICE – PRZELECZ MIEDZY KOPAMI – HALA GASIENICOWA/PTTK MUROWANIEC (THE SHELTER) – CZARNY STAW GASIENICOWY (BLACK POND) – KARB (ridge) – KOSCIELEC – KARB – ZIELONY STAW GASIENICOWY (green pond) – MUROWANIEC – PSIA TRAWKA (The dog’s grass!) – BRZEZINY. From Murowaniec there are number of routes taking you down to the main road.

Route: 18 km (11 miles)
Total Ascent: 1310 meters
Difficulty: Moderate
Hike duration: 8 to 10 hours (depending on a route and style). 7h – very experienced climbers. 8h – 9h Normal time when you take stops for photos and food, which makes the hike more relaxing and pleasurable.

Full guide on hiking Koscielec - stage by stage.

Start the trek as early as possible: 7-8am the latest! Have at least 1 extra hour before it gets dark. In October it gets dark at 6pm – it is not allowed to be on a mountain trails after dark.

Starting point for hiking Koscielec in Tatra Mountains.

STARTING POINT – KUZNICE, where the lower cable car station for Kasprowy Wierch is located. Normally local van bus would take you to Kuznice. NOTE in 2023 the road section from Jan Paul II roundabout to Kuznice parking is CLOSED due to renovation! It’s a joke as the renovation was supposed to be finished long ago – but the road was still closed in October 2023 and looks like not much has been done so far. That means you will need to walk up from the roundabout to Kuznice lower cable car station for Kasprowy Wierch – it’s about 2km/40 minutes walk.

In Kuznice Parking area there are number of cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops, so you will be able to get coffee and breaky before the climb!

Kuznice - Hala Gasienicowa (the valley) - both yellow and blue trails take 1.55h.

At the beginning of the route there is a check point where you need to buy your ticket to Tatra National Park – 8PLN/2 Euro. From this point there are two trails to the valley – Dolina Gasienicowa – YELLOW trail AND BLUE trail – see the signs. Same time for both trails – up to you which you take. I took the yellow one this time, see the route on the picture.

Hala Gasienicowa - PTTK Murowaniec.

The valley – Dolina Gasienicowa is one of the most beautiful and vosoted art of the lower Tatra Mountains. The valley is fully covered with purple flowers during spring time. 100m further you’ll find PTTK Murowaniec – the biggest shelter is located, great place to get your lunch or dinner on the way back. Cash payments are only accepted but there is an ATM inside the building. It is also a nice accommodation option if you book in advance.

Hala Gasienicowa - Black Pond/Czarny Staw Gasienicowy. 30-35 min.

From Hala Gasienicowa you are heading toward the Black Pond – Czarny Staw Gasienicowy, which has the most beautiful emerald colour 😉 It is one of the most spectacular lakes in Polish Tatra Mountains, great spot to take a small break. In a good weather there should be lots of people. 

From there you will be heading toward Karb. On the picture below I’m pointing Koscielec Peak.

Czarny Staw Gasienicowy - Karb (45min).

You pass the pond on your left to take a steeper rocky section taking you to Karb (at the elevation of 1853m.). This is a good worm up before the last section of the climb to Koscielec Peak. The views are breathtaking. The trail gets more challenging and from Karb you have 55 minutes to climb Koscielec.

Check two other spectacular trails in Tatra Mountains.

From Karb to Koscielec Peak! (50 min).

This is a very difficult climbing section, there are no ‘helpers’ like chains, neither ladders. Few times you will need to stop and let people pass. Stay safe and wear headgear on this section – it was so good to see people properly equipped – finally safety comes first and it’s obvious people became aware how dangerous are higher parts of Tatra Mountains. The trail is steep and be careful with stones falling along the way. There are few rocky sections which require pure climbing, so be prepared for some bouldering – see photos below.

Overall, it a beautiful route with magnificent views from the top. It gets really challenging with strong wind – so check the forecast properly.

Koscielec Peak 2155m.

Full guide on hiking Koscielec in Tatra Mountains from Zakopane

And finally on the top! 

Difficult sections – with some climbing experience you will manage. Have proper hiking shoes, it will help you on rocky sections.

You can also take a guided hike if you don’t feel comfortable doing it alone. There are plenty of licenced guides that will you there.

Koscielec - Karb (50 min) - Zielony Staw Gasienicowy (Green Pond) (25 min)

Full guide on hiking Koscielec in Tatra Mountains from Zakopane

From Koscielec peak you are taking the same route down to Karb. From there you may take the trail you took up or take left toward Green Pond (Zielony Staw Gasienicowy), which is more pleasant.

From there you will be heading toward PTTK Murowaniec – the Shelter, where you can grab hot tea or some food. 

From PTTK Murowaniec there are number of trails down toward the main road and Zakopane. I took a longer trail to Brzeziny, it is a very pleasant forest path. Once again a view from the top. 

Full guide on hiking Koscielec in Tatra Mountains from Zakopane
Sassari Sardinia

Hey - I'm Eva!

Hiker, adventurous traveler and the author of this blog. My biggest joy is mountaineering and writing reportage travel stories here on this blog, to help you create a unique travel experience. Traveling is freedom, allows you seeing the world truly, meet communities, grow. Taste it!
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